Farm Workers Go On Strike, 21 Casino Workers Suspended, 98 Year Old To Run Against Trumka
Every Saturday, Working In These Times rounds up the labor news that we missed the week before. Email stories to firstname.lastname@example.org
In an unusual move, 200 agriculture workers in Northern California went on a one-day strike. From the Salinas Californian:
More than 200 non-union farmworkers marched and chanted near lettuce fields in Gonzales during a one-day strike Monday over what they claim is a lack of medical insurance, job equipment and overtime pay.
The workers, employed by Amaral Ranches, Inc., were scheduled to try and determine today in a “pre-election” who among them is eligible to vote in any future election held to determine their eligibility for union representation, UFW officials said. The pre-election vote is scheduled at 9 a.m. today at the Salinas office of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, said Efren Barajas, vice president of the local UFW office. Some workers said the strike began at 5:30 a.m. Monday. They said they seek pay increases, paid holidays and vacation days; overtime pay, equipment such as rain gear and medical plans. Employees answering the phones at Amaral Ranches on Monday would not comment on the strike or other developments.
A whistleblower who exposed safety problems at the mine where he worked has his job reinstated by a Federal judge. This is the third time the whistleblower has his job reinstated after exposing safety problems at various mines. From the Huffington Post:
A federal judge ordered Friday that Howard's company immediately reinstate him at the mine and pay a $30,000 fine for discriminating against a whistleblower. The sharply worded decision said managers at Cumberland River, as well as its parent company, coal giant Arch Coal, went to great lengths to find a reason to fire Howard after he brought his mine to the attention of federal safety officials.
“It is obvious that [Cumberland River] worked diligently to end Howard's employment,” wrote Margaret A. Miller, an administrative law judge for the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. “The discrimination against Howard ran through [Cumberland River] and its parent, Arch, at the highest management levels.”
A spokeswoman for Arch, which bills itself as the second-largest U.S. coal company, said it does not comment on litigation. The company may appeal the decision.
Well known in Kentucky coal country, the 52-year-old Howard has been blowing the whistle on unsafe conditions at his mines for years — a rarity for a working miner — and he has a way of getting fired or otherwise disciplined after such outspokenness. (His actions have inspired a folk song.) Friday's ruling marks at least the third time Howard has been reinstated by a judge.